Adolf Deissmann and the Greek of the New Testament

There are some works you should just read, particularly if you’re interested in the Greek of the New Testament. Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient East (LAE) is in this category. It is an incredible book, filled with transcriptions, translations, pictures and discussions of how papyri, ostraca and inscriptions (largely those found in garbage heaps) shed light on how we understand the Greek of the New Testament. Pre-Deissmann, many thought that the Greek used in the New Testament was a special sort of Greek; after Deissmann, we realize that non-literary sources teach us a lot about the Greek used in the New Testament. It’s a book that (at least from my perspective) everyone should read. The only collection that contains Light from the Ancient East is the Portfolio collection. If you don’t have Portfolio and LAE sounds interesting, you might want to look into buying Light from the Ancient East as an individual download.
While many of you may already have Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient East (it was one of our first community pricing titles from back in 2005!), did you know that Logos offers other useful books written by Deissmann?
One of them is Bible Studies, which uses the linguistic and cultural insights gleaned from Deissmann’s study of papyri and ostraca and applies them to specific passages of the New Testament. It is a truly useful book, so much so that BDAG frequently cites it by page. And this one isn’t even in Portfolio, so if you don’t already have it, you’ll want to check it out.
We’ve also recently released a two-volume collection of books by Adolf Deissmann, the Adolf Deissmann New Testament Studies Collection. The two titles included are The Philology of the Greek Bible and St. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History.
The Philology of the Greek Bible is based on lectures Deissmann gave as a visiting scholar at Cambridge in the early 1900′s. The key here is that these lectures are about the Greek Bible, not just the New Testament. They ooze with knowledge from Deissmann’s extensive work with non-literary (i.e. not classical literature, such as Homer, Plato, etc.) sources. The text is easy to read (I read it using Logos on my iPod) and relatively engaging.
I’ve not read St. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History yet, but hope to fit it into my reading over the next few months. It will be interesting to see how Deissmann applies his knowledge to the study of a person.
Anyway, these are wonderful books, and they really do provide a lot of applied knowledge of the Greek of the New Testament to help us better understand the linguistic and cultural context of the New Testament.

Comments

  1. Steve Maling says:

    Rick
    The only one of these “classics” I’ve read is “St. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History”. That was 55 years ago as an undergraduate struggling to find a way out of a purely humanistic reading of the New Testament. I’m eternally grateful to Deissmann for showing me the path. If that was 55 years ago I must be of an age when Logos is publishing more books than I’ll have time to read, so I’ll plug “St. Paul” and leave the rest to you who have more time with the wish that Logos customers of younger years will be ever thankful for the resources they have on the path of discipleship.
    Shalom, shalom,
    Steve

  2. Thanks, Steve! Makes me want to read the book even more.

  3. Light From The Ancient East is also frequently cited in BDAG. This blog post provides a good example why it is helpful to have LAE and BS in your collection: http://blog.logos.com/archives/2005/09/community_prici.html